The562’s coverage of Jordan Athletics is sponsored by John Ross, Class of 2013.
When Jon Nielsen took over the Jordan football team this year, he promised a narrative change–and a results change. His Panthers took a few quarters to get going on Thursday night against Fairfax, but once the engine got in gear their offense looked like a sports car on an empty freeway as they raced to a shutout win 34-0.
With the victory the Panthers improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2019, and just the second time in the last 15 years.
“We’re young, and I think a lot of times I expect certain things because I know what we’re capable of,” said Nielsen. “These kids have never seen anything like this–no disrespect to the past but we’re starting with a clean slate and now three weeks into the season. But we’re going to be special. You can see the big plays the last couple of games. It’s just a matter of getting everything together.”
Jordan led just 6-0 at halftime on the strength of a 60-yard touchdown by junior star running back Jordan Washington. That was all the Panthers were able to muster offensively in the first half as a number of missed connections and two interceptions kept them from scoring again. In the second half, though, things got going, in part because the team was feeding Washington.
His second touchdown of the game came from 50 yards out late in the third quarter, which put the Panthers up 12-0. Jahsiah Matua had his second fumble recovery of the game on his third sack of the game on the next drive, giving the ball back to the Panthers who scored on the next play thanks to an eight-yard scamper by Khalii Hicks to go up 18-0.
Jordan continued to grow their lead in the fourth quarter as QB JJ Nielsen connected with Deontae Tucker for a 57-yard touchdown. After that an interception by Jaymari Redmond once again set Jordan up with the ball, and Washington’s third touchdown of the night ended the game with some fireworks, as he sprinted in from 64 yards out.
Washington finished with eight carries for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the game, and also played cornerback on a defense that shut out its opponent.
“When I first came here we’ve never been like this before,” said Washington. “We’ve got high expectations this year, it’s a blessing to come out and play like this.”
The defense as a whole played great with five sacks as well as four takeaways, led by Matua’s big night. In addition to the interception by Redmond, Jacob Hernandez had an interception as well.
“We’re excited and I see a lot of potential for us this year,” said Matua. “We play assignment football, everyone’s just doing their job, not trying to do too much. We trust each other, that helps us work well together.”
Nielsen said he was proud of his defense for putting up a shutout.
“Any time you can get a shutout it’s great,” he said. “Fairfax never quit, we let them hang around but our defense stepped up.”
The Panthers rushing attack led the way as Khalii Hicks put up 79 yards and a touchdown on the ground to go with Washington’s 212 yards and three scores. Nielsen had played Washington at slot and wideout earlier in the year to try and get him the ball more in space, but has switched him into the backfield. A wise move given that his eight touches turned into 212 yards and three TDs.
“I was trying to sell him as something else,” he said. “But he’s special at running back. It’s a good thing to have hi back there and with our two backs, we have a pretty incredible duo.”
The Panthers will have a chance to go 4-0 when they host Irvine next Thursday.